Are you terrified this table-flippng New Jersey housewife will become your neighbor?
As the cabin door opened, I felt the Central American humidity and a strong dose of fear strike me. “How am I ever going to survive this trip?” I thought to myself.
I’m not the most adventurous traveler, haven’t traveled on my own previously and never been in a country where I didn’t know the language well.
I was afraid of being kidnapped, of getting lost, of being robbed, of losing my plane ticket and my passport, of not being able to speak Spanish well enough on the street to find a place to eat and then starving to my death in hunger!
How was I going to make it through Costa Rica and Central America for the next few months?
My fears had instantly become real as the stewardess was rattling off welcome greetings in Spanish and passengers stood up ready to make a mad dash to the exit.
I feared my body ending up in one of these carriages if things had gone horribly wrong in Nicaragua. NO BUENO.
What are you afraid of?
Fear is that pesky internal talk within ourselves that makes us imagine the worst outcome, makes us doubt ourselves and prevents us from being our best selves. Regardless of real or make-belief, fear is crippling and damaging to each of our lives.
As my friend Caroline just wrote , fear of success and fear of failure keeps us right where we are in life without allowing us to move forward.
We are afraid of trying out something new and failing because we don’t want to look bad, fall on our face, be laughed at or be ridiculed. (And I’m not just talking about the first time I went skiing a couple years ago.)
We are also afraid of success because we fear change, alienation from people close to us and simply being our best selves.
When trying out something or taking on a new challenge, fear holds us back from excelling.
The best-kept secret to conquering fear.
I’ve found one of the best secrets to conquering fear is reflecting upon past similar successes when you conquered fear.
Remember that trip to Central America that terrified me?
I reflected upon the times I did travel by myself, the times that I was in an unfamiliar country (trips to India when I was younger) and other travel successes. I realized that I had successfully made it through each of those travel challenges and enjoyed myself (and lived to talk about them).
Naturally, my travel adventure was one of the best ones in my life. It was a journey to self-discovery and overcoming my fears of travel.
Reflect on past success when facing uncertainty or the unknown (and when filled with self-doubt and fear)
In my travel fears, I had to reflect upon my past successes and ability to overcome my fears in past situations, to remind myself that I had overcome that fear before and will do so again.
Now, you may be afraid of doing something in your life. Before you take another step, do this:
1) Acknowledge the fear and why you’re scared of doing something. The first step to conquering fear is realizing you’re in fact scared of something.
2) Accept that the fear is real in that it’s holding you back but unreal that it’s likely the worst case scenario you’re imagining. Fear is usually a trumped up feeling of inadequacy and a creation of your mind.
3) Whatever it is you are afraid of, look at and reflect upon those similar past events in your life. If you are afraid of starting a new career, look at how you achieved success in your past career. If you’re afraid of giving a speech, reflect upon all the positive speeches you’ve given. If you’re afraid of whipping up a gourmet meal for your mother-in-law and getting her approval, good luck!
4) Go forth with confidence. Know that you’ve done it well before and will do it well again. Use your previous success and ability to overcome challenges to help you conquer your fears!
Here are 12 additional fear-conquering strategies.
When was the last time you felt scared about something in your life? What do you do to overcome fear?
In small ways and big ones.
A small change is that I’m now back in the States after nearly four months of travel in Central America. I’m glad to be home after my travel adventure. While I loved every minute of my trip, coming home is a welcome change.
Big changes can be life-altering events; unexpected and sometimes traumatic. Some of the changes I talk about in my recent guest post on Tiny Buddha sure felt that way.
As unexpected and traumatic as change can be, change happens. We can’t do anything about stopping change. We either embrace change or get crushed by it.
It took me a few life lessons to embrace change but I think enough life shake-ups helped me come to terms with change and embrace it.
The lessons I learned about change through some of my life experiences were featured on the Tiny Buddha blog recently.
Here are 6 life lessons on embracing change, courtesy of Tiny Buddha. I’m grateful to Lori Deschene for the opportunity to post on Tiny Buddha and share my experiences with change.
What do you think? Have you mastered big life changes in your life? How did you do it? Please share in the comments below.
If you hate change, fight change or have no change to spare, enjoy some of my photos below of Nevada:
flowers from a Nevada garden
the beautiful Eastern Sierras
northern Nevada sunset
What do you think? Have you mastered big life changes in your life? How did you do it? Please share in the comments below.
A Sikh candlelight vigil, remembering the Wisconsin victims.
Tragedy can strike at any moment.
Even in the most sacred times – while you’re at the temple praying, in the midst of a divine moment. This can happen in the most sacred of places and the most public of places.
Which is exactly what happened in Wisconsin last week at the Oak Creek Sikh Gurdwara (temple). 6 people died tragically, left their families and loved ones behind and are being eulogized in funerals this week.
The tragedy, like the shootings in Colorado earlier this year, are profoundly sad, appear to be senseless and affects each one of us, no matter where we live and what religion we practice.
This is not a Sikh tragedy but a human one.
While I’m not Sikh by religion, I share a country of origin, India, where Sikhs hail from. I’ve found the people who practice the Sikh faith to be extremely devoted to their religion, peaceful, loving and kind.
Sikhs have gotten a bad rap, in America, because they wear turbans and have beards; characteristics of Osama bin Laden.
Why turbans? Not only is it one of the tenets of their religion, but as the Huffington post columnist recently pointed out, Sikh gurus instructed Sikhs to wear turbans to rebel against India’s caste system and to represent equality between poor and rich. The turban was encouraged to be worn by all classes of Sikhs to represent equality in God’s eyes.
It’s unknown why the lone gunman in Wisconsin unleashed this horrific act of violence against this devoted and peaceful community. But the tragedy has once again confronted us as a community, as a society and as individuals.
How do we personally deal with pain and suffering when tragedy strikes?
Here are 5 ways:
1) Reflect. When tragedy strikes, it’s easy to jump to conclusions, feed off stereotypes and hatred and take action we may regret later.
Instead, after a tragedy strikes, reflect. Reflect upon what happened, reflect upon your feelings and how the tragedy impacted you. Try to understand why you’re feeling the way you are.
Observe anger, the sadness and the other emotions the tragedy causes within you.
2) Gather and reach out. When tragedy struck in Wisconsin, Sikhs around the United States had vigils in many gurdwaras around the country. This was a time for communities to gather and meet each; to comfort each other and try to collectively understand what happened.
While you may want to reflect on the tragedy yourself, you may find it helpful to be with others and reflect as a group. You may feel like you’re less alone and feel a stronger support network. By reaching out to others, you’ll be help others more seriously affected by the tragedy to move forward.
Here are a couple photos of the the beautiful candlelight vigil and prayer I attended in San Jose, California where the community gathered and mourned together:
Lighting candles in remembrance.
Community gathers for candlelight vigil.
3) Learn and understand. Tragedies present you with an opportunity for better learning and understanding.
Ask yourself what the tragedy means to you and your community?
Did the tragedy happen because of stereotypes, hatred, ignorance or some other reason?
What caused the tragedy and what can be done to avoid similar happenings in the future? Is it time to improve the cultural dialogue? Time to reach out and get to know our neighbors? Time to deal with mental health issues?
Learning and understanding from a tragedy is not only a healing process but can help make you and those affected even stronger than before and help your community avoid it in the future.
4) Help and give. When others are going through man-made or natural tragedies, we might want to sit home and mourn. It’s easier to watch television and empathize with the affected people than to actually do something.
Instead, see what you can do to help those impacted by the tragedy.
Ask yourself what you can do to help. Although tragedies seem to happen far away from us, they are not that far away. It probably happened in a community similar to yours with the same types of neighbors, same types of issues and similar people.
What can you do to help others and give back? Can it be as simple as making a donation? Is it putting together a care package? Is it writing notes of support and reaching out to the victims?
Is it championing an issue or cause that the tragedy raised?
Doing something, anything, in the face of tragedy, is also a healing activity that can help you move on. Helping others by rebuilding a community or giving back allows you to take something sad and hopeless and make it positive, as Sikh community leader, Valerie Kaur, noted about the emerging generation of Sikh Americans in her recent Washingtong Post article.
5) Take time to heal. We don’t heal overnight. Healing takes time. Reflect, learn, understand and take time to heal when tragedy strikes – especially when it’s close to you or your community.
Don’t continuously reflect upon the tragedy and take a break from it if you’re able to. Try living as normally as possible, do things you love, meet up with friends and try to partake in your regular daily activities.
Also, let’s not kid ourselves, tragedies can have psychological and emotional impact. Some events can trigger emotional or psychological wounds especially if you’ve experienced something similar before.
If you need the help of a counselor or psychologist; seek it. Just talking to someone else about what happened may help you come to terms with the incident and help you move on.
What do you do when tragedy strikes? How have you dealt with tragedy in the past? How can we heal, reflect and move on with our lives? Please share in the comments below.
All it took was Corn Flakes and 17 years of practice! (Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images for Kelloggs)
You’re standing up on that Olympic podium grinning like the champion you are.
Blowing kisses to your family, striking a pose for photographers and even texting the President of the United States.
“You killed it, son” he texts.
“Thanks for the support B. Great to see Michelle in the stands!” you text back.
As the national anthem starts playing, you couldn’t be prouder of your Olympic gold-medal. You worked your entire life for this moment and are now being recognized with 6 grams of gold and an offer to be on the cover of a Corn Flakes box.
10 gold-medal winning strategies for your life
You don’t have to be an gold-medal winning Olympian like Ryan Lochte or Missy Franklin to win the game of life. This is especially relevant if you have no idea how to swim the butterfly, get on a pommel horse or have any other skill that will land you in the Olympic games.
Here are 10 observations that I made about these Olympians that we all can start implementing in our own lives today:
1. Have a strategy. Olympians, especially gold-medal winning ones don’t show up for the big day without a plan. They’ve got a strategy to win the day and the gold; almost every move is examined, discussed and planned ahead prior to game day.
You need a strategy as well to win at life. When setting goals or pursuing dreams, have a plan of where you’re going. Get friends, experts and advisors help you plan the journey so you know where you’re going and have the best strategy to get you there. If you don’t have a strategy, you may never get to your destination.
2. Play as a team. Olympians play as a team and credit their supporting cast for their success. And no, it’s not just in the team competitions. Even in individual competitions like swimming or running, there’s a whole cast of teammates, coaches, family members and others who are part of the athlete’s team.
Have a team in your own life – a close network of people who support you. Actively bring together, seek the counsel of and ask your supporting team for ideas, strategies and improvements to help you live a better life. Those that are negative towards your or don’t support you should be kept at bay.
3. Keep pushing forward. Even after a tough loss in the pool or losing a basketball match in the early rounds, Olympians look ahead.
When Michael Phelps got out of the water after his first competition in the 400 IM, coming in fourth place, he told the irritating NBC reporter that he was off to a bad start with this race but wanted to put the race behind him and focus on the other races coming up.
You can’t simmer on your losses. When things go wrong, horribly wrong sometimes, you have regroup, reflect a bit on what went wrong and then forge ahead. On your path to a dream or goal, momentary defeats and losses are bound to happen. You have to keep your eye on the prize and move forward despite setbacks that may get in your way.
4. Go for the gold. Winning Olympians come into the games to win gold.
Several times, we’ve seen Olympic athletes disappointed, even unfairly devastated, for snagging a silver medal. This only means one thing – they came in looking for the top prize.
It’s good to have your eyes set on winning “the” prize. Don’t settle for second best – go for the gold. Having said that, do keep the next strategy in mind too.
5. Do your best. You can’t be the best every time. Sometimes, you’re going to lose. Ryan Lochte loses. Michael Phelps loses. Missy Franklin loses. Gabby Douglas…well, ok fine.
But many world-class athletes lose even when they are pursuing gold. You can go in desiring to win the game or top the competition but all you can be expected to do at the end of the day is to do your best.
If you do your best and live up to your potential, most of the times you win.
But not always. Be prepared to accept that your best may not always win the day and that’s ok!
6. Go hard until the end. Have you seen how many games, races or matches have gone down to the wire? I mean, even the U.S. men’s basketball team recently just won a game by a mere 5 points against Lithuania! Which means they could have lost if they didn’t play their heart’s out for the last few minutes of the game.
You have to be persistent and determined and not just sporadically. Sometimes when the going gets tough, you must buckle down and push through even harder to accomplish your goals. It’s usually when you push through the most difficult part of the journey that you’ll break through.
When you feel like giving up, don’t! Go strong until the end.
7. Be prepared. Not only do those Boy Scouts love to be prepared but Olympians and world-class performers in any sport or venture arrive with copious preparation.
Olympians put in thousands of hours for a one minute or one hour activity, depending on their sport. Imagine spending thousands upon thousands of hours to win the hundred meter dash which is less than a 10 second race.
If you’re pursuing a goal or dream in life, or trying to become better in your profession or passion, you must be prepared. Preparation means practice, perfecting your craft and dedication when you might want to give up.
Many times, the difference in winning is the person who showed up most prepared.
8. Don’t listen to the chatter. Many Olympians have an ability to tune out the chatter from analysts, sportscaster and the tabloids. While the news media and gossip-mongers are dissecting the lives and capabilities of the athletes, the athletes themselves have tuned out from all the chatter out there.
If you’re going to succeed, you have to be open to valid criticism and ideas for improvement from your inner circle. But you absolutely cannot listen to the haters, doubters and detractors in your life. You may not have paparazzi and the news media but your rumor-spreading, gossip-mongering friends and relatives need to stay out of your life.
Even if you can’t keep them out of your life, do your best to keep their inappropriate comments and criticisms at a distance.
9. Focus on your game. Olympians are 100% focused on their own game. In the individual events especially, they don’t appear to be competing against the competition. They go in focusing on what they need to do to win. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and have a strategy to do their best.
You cannot be bothered what the competition is doing. Sure, you can occasionally glance at the progress of your competitors in life but more often than not, it’s not going to be helpful. It might make you feel worse, dis-empowered or like you’re falling behind. No need to keep up with your peers; focus on your game.
10. Enjoy and be grateful. Why do Olympians look like they are having the time of their lives?
More than once, I’ve heard an Olympian say they’re going to go out there and have fun.
Have fun during one of the most high-pressure, gut-wrenching circumstances in their lives??
Apparently so. You need to enjoy the experience or the journey on your way to the destination. Only when you appreciate and enjoy the struggle to get through a crocodile-filled river can you truly enjoy the safety of having made it across.
When you’re enjoying yourself, you’re more relaxed and focused on achieving your goals. Remind yourself why you started on the journey in the first place and to slow down and enjoy the process.
Athletes are also always grateful for their accomplishments and thank their coach, their Mom, God and everyone in between. They know their efforts were their own but it took a village to make them into the gold-medal winning Olympian they are today.
Don’t forget to regularly show gratitude to those who are helping you achieve your goals and supporting your endeavors. Without them, you wouldn’t be as far along on your path as you are.
Do you agree with these life lessons I’ve picked up from the Olympians? Which ones resonate with you? What have I forgotten? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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